The Book of Romans is regarded by most scholars as Paul’s most comprehensive and logical presentation of the Gospel. The first six verses of the letter introduce some important doctrinal and practical concepts that merit our consideration and study. Note the terms the Apostle uses: Bondservant of Christ Jesus; Set apart for the Gospel of God; Promised Beforehand through His Prophets; Holy Scriptures; Declared the Son of God with Power; Declared by the Resurrection From the Dead; Spirit of Holiness; Jesus Christ our Lord; Grace through Him; Obedience of Faith; and The Called of Jesus Christ.
THE TEXT – (1)“Paul, a bondservant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the Gospel of God, (2) which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, (3) concerning His Son, who was born of a descendent of David according to the flesh, (4) Who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, (5) through Whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among the Gentiles for His name’s sake, (6) among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ”. (Romans 1:1-6)
Verse 1 – First, Paul gives his credentials for writing this epistle to the Christians at Rome: His Relationship – A Bondservant of Christ Jesus. The term “bondservant” here denotes “A slave who completely belongs to his owner and has no freedom” or “A servant who willingly serves his master all his days”. So Paul was totally absorbed with, and committed to, Jesus Christ. His Office – Called as an Apostle or A Called Apostle; One specially commissioned by the Lord. Verse 5 says Paul received his Apostleship from Christ so he could bring about obedience to the Gentiles. His Work – Set apart for the Gospel of God. Paul was separated to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, even from birth. (Gal 1:15). He explains this Gospel further in the next two verses. The emphasis at the very beginning of this marvelous letter is on The Proclamation of the Good News or Glad Tidings, with Paul as the Instrument of Revelation, but with God Himself as the Source.
Verse 2 – The author now defines and explains this Gospel of God. It was promised beforehand by the O.T. prophets. “As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old – ‘Salvation from our enemies..”. (Lk 1:70-71). Examples of prophecies of the Gospel of God include Joel 2:28-32, Psalm 106:10, Deut 18:15-19, etc. The fact that this Gospel was divinely promised in their own Scriptures was a very meaningful point to the Jews. In this epistle to the Roman Christians, which were predominantly Gentile, the O.T. is referenced around 60 times. Paul tied these two groups together in his discussion of Salvation two chapters later. “But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets; even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction”. (Rom 3:21-22).
Verse 3 – These Holy Scriptures and this Gospel of God concern His Son, who was of the linage of David by birth. The Good News or Glad Tidings of the Gospel are based on the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. “For I make known to you, brethren, the Gospel which I preached to you, which you also received, in which also you stand, by which also you are Saved., if you hold fast the Word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of First Importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures”. (I Cor 15:1-4). The very essence of the Bible story is the Redemptive Work of Jesus on the cross to bring about our Salvation.
Verse 4– The statement made here produces several major doctrinal points in only 25 words. Paul says that this Gospel of God is a Gospel of Resurrection. We understand that Jesus Christ is the Son of God because that fact was demonstrated for all times when God the Father raised Him from the dead. That Declaration was with Power based on (1) The miraculous way in which it was accomplished. and (2) All the eye witness evidence that supported the spectacular event. Christ’s Resurrection was simply the greatest of all miracles and the ultimate proof that He was everything He claimed to be.
The writer further states that the Declaration of His Resurrection was according to the Spirit of Holiness. This refers to the character of Christ as being pure and holy. Verses 3-4 also provide us with evidence of both the HUMANITY and the DEITY of the Savior. Verse 3 discusses His birth and ancestry in the Flesh, and verse 4 tells of His Deity along with God and the Holy Spirit. After His Resurrection, Jesus Christ was truly OUR LORD and LORD of ALL.
Verse 5 – Here Paul reminds the Romans of his authority in preaching this Gospel. Neither his office nor his work were authorized by any man. “But I make known to you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the REVELATION of Jesus Christ”. (Gal 1:11-12). Through this same Jesus, Paul had received Grace (Forgiveness) as an undeserved PRIVILEDGE, but he also received the RESPONSIBILITY to share the Gospel of FAITH and OBEDIENCE with the Gentiles.
This RESPONSIBILITY to preach the Good News to the Gentile nation was given to Paul directly by God. “But the Lord said to him (Ananias), ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel”. (Acts 9:15). As God’s People, we also have been given both great PRIVILEDGE in our Salvation by grace through faith, and great RESPONSIBILITY to live as examples of our Lord and to spread the Good News about Him.
Verse 6 – “Among whom you also are the Called of Jesus Christ”. The Romans had become the CALLED “among all the Gentiles” (NASV) or “among all nations” (NKJV). What higher honor could they, or we attain than to be the CALLED and CHOSEN of Jesus Christ! “..Brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning CHOSE you for SALVATION through Sanctification by the Spirit and Belief in the Truth, to which He CALLED you by our Gospel for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ”. II Thess 2:13-14). Conclusion: Our BEING CHOSEN, our SANCTIFICATION, and our SALVATION are accomplished by HIS CALLING US THROUGH THE GOSPEL! What a GREAT GOD, a WONDERFUL SAVIOR, and a GLORIOUS GOSPEL we have!
Just like the Roman Christians, by virtue of being CHOSEN FOR SALVATION, SANCTIFIED BY THE SPIRIT, and being CALLED BY JESUS CHRIST, WE BELONG TO HIM. Let us live our lives accordingly.